Evan Longoria sounded the alarms after Saturday’s game, a second straight loss in which the Giants had mental and physical errors, a brief skid that sunk them below .500 entering the final week of the regular season.
“I think we’ve squandered the opportunities that we have had,” Longoria said of an offense that had been shut out in back-to-back games at the Coliseum.
The Giants really did not have many opportunities to squander early on Sunday, and yet they took advantage of every one, riding three home runs by the sixth inning and then a late outburst to a 14-2 destruction of the A’s that brought them back to .500 and kept them apace with the Reds (27-27), who won again in the hunt for a wild-card spot.
The Giants (26-26) didn’t get much help around the NL, as the Brewers (26-26) and Cardinals (26-24) won, though the Phillies (27-26) took a step back.
In exploding out to a big lead, the Giants had eight runs through six innings — on just six hits and three walks, which is hard-to-beat efficiency. They had left just one runner on base and homered the rest in, the biggest blast being Brandon Crawford’s fourth career grand slam (though fifth if playoffs are included).
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 20, 2020
His 387-foot shot off A’s reliever J.B. Wendelken in the sixth was a dagger the Giants had only absorbed but not used this season against the A’s, winning their first in six tries and improving to 6-16 against clubs above .500 this year. They will need to beat another — San Diego — if they want to reach October, as they have now finished their road schedule and have eight at Oracle Park split between the Rockies and Padres in the last gasp of the season.
It was the long-ball party the Giants have seen so often against poorer clubs but rarely against better ones. Chadwick Tromp got it started with a third-inning two-run shot (he knocked in Luis Basabe of course, the powerful 1-2 punch), getting a start while Joey Bart has a “mental reset,” as Gabe Kapler called it. In a very limited sample size of two games, Tromp has owned now-A’s starter Mike Minor, 4-for-5 with that homer and a double off the lefty. The four hits are nearly one-third of his entire career’s worth (13) in 63 plate appearances.
Darin Ruf added to the cushion in the fourth, when his fifth blast of the year drove in Brandon Belt (much more standard). Crawford would do the big damage in the sixth, and the Giants added on late with a Mauricio Dubon bases-loaded walk in the seventh, Ruf single in the eighth (finishing with four RBIs), and Basabe and Tromp singles in the ninth. The Giants finished with 15 hits and eight walks and went 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position, which will win a lot of games.
It was far more than enough for Tyler Anderson, who was solid in 5 2/3 innings three days after he was tossed in the third inning.
Anderson gave the A’s little for five innings; they didn’t have a hit until a perfectly placed Matt Olson screwball with two outs in the fourth. He pool-shot a mini blooper just past third base that landed in fair territory, then immediately spun foul, but a few feet far enough for the hit.
Anderson ran into trouble in the sixth, when he loaded the bases with two outs and Kapler visited, Shaun Anderson (no relation) warmed up. Tyler, at 98 pitches, apparently talked his way into pitching against Jake Lamb, who shot a two-run single to right. Those would be the only ones he surrendered, though, as Shaun entered and escaped further damage.
The Giants’ two-game losing skid is over. Their 22-straight-innings-without-a-run-scored streak is over. Their time away from Oracle Park is over. They will need to continue to hit good pitching if they don’t want their season to be over.